Halloween meteorite found on outback WA farm

By James Cameron 22 November 2016
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A 1.15kg meteorite that hit a farm in outback Western Australia on 31 October has been recovered with minimum contamination.

RESEARCHERS HAVE recovered a 1.15kg meteorite from a farm near Morawa in Western Australia, a few hundred kilometres north-east of Perth.

Shaped like a “squished brick”, the meteorite crashed to Earth at 8.04pm on Monday, 31 October 2016.

Members of the public reported the meteorite to Curtin University and Desert Fireball Network’s (DFN) Fireballs in the Sky app – an Australian citizen science program – which allowed the team to respond rapidly.

Due to their fast response, the DFN team recovered the meteorite with minimum weathering contamination – which significantly heightens its scientific value.

meteorite western australia

The 1.15kg meteorite, recovered from a farm in outback Western Australia. (Image: Desert Fireball Network/Curtin University)

The Desert Fireball Network operates across outback Australia, and has a network of digital cameras that photograph the night sky.

“The fireball was picked up by four of our cameras – in Perenjori, Northam, Badgingarra and Hyden,” said DFN founder and planetary geologist Professor Phil Bland.

“With the information from Northam and Badgingarra our team was able to track the fall line and calculate its landing spot to within 200m of where it was subsequently found.”

After obtaining permission to visit the farm, Phil’s colleague Dr Martin Towner and a team of scientists undertook a ground search on 6 November.

It took the team two days of searching to find the meteorite.

“We started on Monday in a different field, travelling on mountain bike and on foot but had no luck and decided to head back to the field from the day before to complete that quadrant,” said Martin, from Curtin University’s Department of Applied Geology.

Once found, the meteorite was taken back to Curtin University where colleagues from the CSIRO conducted CT scanning. A preliminary analysis suggests it is a chondrite meteorite, which is a type of stony meteorite.

“We’ll find out much more once we’ve been able to study the 3D model in detail and done chemical analysis of thin sections of the meteorite,” said Phil.

The meteorite is a similar size to the New Year’s Eve fireball the DFN found at Lake Eyre in South Australia last year.

“First New Year’s Eve, now Halloween – there seems to be something about holidays that really works in our favour!” said Phil.

Calculated orbit of the meteoroid that hit Earth on 31 October 2016. (Credit: Curtin HIVE)